Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell has rejected claims that parts of a controversial Dáil speech attacking the Church were drawn from an article that appeared on a US-based website last year.
Speaking during a debate on abortion, calling for repeal of the Eighth Amendment, Ms O’Connell said: “Holy Catholic Ireland was a monstrous hoax.
“When it came to children out of wedlock, the sin of having sex outside marriage was all-encompassing. The products of such sex were seen as the devil’s spawn,” she added.
These lines were remarkably similar to ones in an article published on IrishCentral.com in October, where New York-based journalist Niall O’Dowd wrote “Much of Holy Catholic Ireland was a monstrous hoax…when it came to children out of wedlock… The sin of having sex outside marriage was all encompassing. The progeny of such sex were the devil’s spawn.”
Several people took to social media this week to compare both texts.
However, Ms O’Connell has rejected allegations of plagiarism, telling The Irish Catholic: “From what I gather, the accusation solely concerns those two lines you have identified, which total 26 words. That is 26 words out of a 2,931-word speech that I delivered in the Dáil last Thursday.”
“I was not aware of the Irish Central article in question prior to it being raised in the context of this allegation. Any similarities are entirely coincidental, therefore I totally reject the allegation being made against me,” she said.
During her speech, Ms O’Connell, a vocal advocate for further liberalisation of abortion laws, said “it is when we have been at our most Catholic in Ireland that we have been at our least Christian”.
Meanwhile, a number of deputies spoke for the retention of constitutional amendment that guarantees the right to life of unborn children.
Kerry deputy Michael Healy-Rae said “from the moment of conception, the person is a baby, a child to be protected in the same way we would protect a child in a pram on the street if we thought something was going to happen to that child”.
He added: “If my viewpoint turns people against me and costs me my seat and the right to be here in this chamber, I would gladly lose it.”